Friday, March 8, 2013

Rushing the Tomb!

One of the most beautiful pictures of the Easter/Passover season is the painting above depicting Peter and John as they rush toward the empty tomb of Jesus. Early on the first day of the week (Sunday), Mary Magdalene had run to inform them that the stone had been rolled away from the tomb.The story follows:

1  Now on the first day of the week Mary Magdalene went to the tomb early, while it was still dark, and saw that the stone had been taken away from the tomb. 2  Then she ran and came to Simon Peter, and to the other disciple, whom Jesus loved, and said to them, "They have taken away the Lord out of the tomb, and we do not know where they have laid Him." 3  Peter therefore went out, and the other disciple, and were going to the tomb. 4  So they both ran together, and the other disciple outran Peter and came to the tomb first. 5  And he, stooping down and looking in, saw the linen cloths lying there; yet he did not go in. 6  Then Simon Peter came, following him, and went into the tomb; and he saw the linen cloths lying there, 7  and the handkerchief that had been around His head, not lying with the linen cloths, but folded together in a place by itself. 8  Then the other disciple, who came to the tomb first, went in also; and he saw and believed. 9  For as yet they did not know the Scripture, that He must rise again from the dead. 10  Then the disciples went away again to their own homes. John 20:1-10 (NKJV)

As I was reading the story I wondered to myself at the magnitude of the impact this one event has had on history. Over 2000 years since His birth and nearly 2000 years from the actual Resurrection this one event is still turning the world upside down. I for one am overjoyed by the fact that my eternal destiny is sealed through the shed blood of Christ and His subsequent victory over death. By this one event alone all that Christ spoke, all of His actions, and all He accomplished was divinely affirmed by the Father. He is indeed Lord.

Peter and John rush to the tomb because they needed verification of what Mary had told them, yet they still did not understand. Psalm 16:10, a Messianic prophecy states, "For You will not leave my soul in Sheol, Nor will You allow Your Holy One to see corruption." And again in Scripture Isaiah prophesies around 700 years earlier, "Yet it pleased the LORD to bruise Him; He has put Him to grief. When You make His soul an offering for sin, He shall see His seed, He shall prolong His days, And the pleasure of the LORD shall prosper in His hand. He shall see the labor of His soul, and be satisfied. By His knowledge My righteous Servant shall justify many, For He shall bear their iniquities. (Isa 53:10-11) Peter and John are not unlike us today. There are still many who have not yet believed. Some are still waiting for miracles to prove it; some are living their lives to disprove it; some have found their happiness in another god or another religion and have not looked into the facts concerning Christ; yet others are just too caught up in their self and daily lives that eternal things are just not important. Peter and John had spent over three years of their lives with Jesus. They touched Him, ate with Him, sailed with Him and served Him. Yet even then, His prediction of the resurrection at this moment in their lives had not yet sunk in, cp. John 14, Mark 8:31; Matthew 17:22; Luke 9:22.

The Church was a Mystery to the first century Jews. They always thought that the scepter of rule would be theirs forever and viewed the Scripture through the lens that when Messiah came the earthly subservience to another earthly kingdom would end. Their worldview in many ways clouded out the realities of what the prophets had foretold. Although they were looking for a Messiah--their Messiah, would be one who would destroy the Roman armies and end the occupation--not one who would suffer and die. Surprisingly, just before Jesus' ascension into heaven, in Acts 1:6 they are still asking, "...Lord, will You at this time restore the kingdom to Israel?" This could teach us the lesson that when it comes to studying the Scripture we need to allow all preconceived ideas and worldviews hit the floor hard and never look back. We then need to open the Scripture to get a fresh understanding of the Lord. We need to be "...taught by God," John 6:45, if we want to know Jesus.

John and Peter ran to the tomb to discover that Jesus was missing--something caused this but they did not quite know for sure what it was. Soon Jesus would put all fears to rest when He would appear in their midst to show that He had defeated death. Then, the same day at evening, being the first day of the week, when the doors were shut where the disciples were assembled, for fear of the Jews, Jesus came and stood in the midst, and said to them, "Peace be with you." When He had said this, He showed them His hands and His side. Then the disciples were glad when they saw the Lord. (John 20:19-20) 

Jesus still lives and today He is seated at the right hand of the father interceding for the saints 24/7/365, Hebrews 7:25, that is to mean, all around the clock, for the Lord never sleeps nor does He slumber, Psalm 121:4. John and Peter rushed to the tomb because they loved Jesus. Won't you rush to Him as well, confessing your sin, seeking forgiveness, and making Him the Lord of your life? For a while longer, He still waits.

God Bless
Bro. Mike

Oil Painting by
Erich Lessing
Apostles Peter and John Hurry to the Tomb on the Morning of the Resurrection
By Eugene Burnand. Oil on canvas, 1898. Collection Musée d’Orsay, Paris